A person in the United States with whom I have had Internet contact for the past year or so, who is on the periphery of the organization, informed me a few days ago that the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society has stopped producing Bibles, at least in English.
It seems that my friend had gone to the kingdom hall to procure a Bible for himself, for personal study. But he was told that the New World Translation in English is out of stock and has been for some months. He telephoned Bethel in Brooklyn to inquire and was informed by the person at the desk that the NWT in English was no longer being printed; supposedly, so that the Society could focus on publishing in other languages.
But this makes no sense. English is the universal language, so-called. Over a quarter of the world’s population either use English as a first or second language. Why stop publishing the Bible in what is arguably the most important language in the world - at least in terms of the modern language of Christianity?
As a little background, the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society has been publishing Bibles in English for almost a century – since 1920. Originally they printed the King James Version on their presses. And they have also published the American Standard Version, as well as The Bible in Living English, the so-called Byington Translation; not to mention the Kingdom Interlinear.
And, of course, the New World Bible has been published in English – in part anyway – for over 60-years. So, it is rather extraordinary – astounding, really – that a Bible society that has produced and distributed well over 100,000,000 Bibles in the past half century has now unceremoniously suspended publishing in the language in which the Watchtower originated and which a large percentage of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the people in the field to whom they minister read and speak.
What is going on?
Perhaps the Watchtower has produced a revised edition of the New
World Translation and its production is occupying their mammoth printing presses now. That would explain it. And maybe they intend to release it at their 2013 Annual Meeting, which for the first time is to be tied in to all the congregations.
Let us hope that is the reason the NWT is no longer available; because when a Bible society with the Watchtower’s vast resources makes a boardroom decision to stop making God’s word available – even for a short period of time – to the spiritually hungry souls who have been persuaded to believe that the Watchtower is God’s unique, earthly channel of truth – well, that is a serious matter.
It seems the overall trend for the Watchtower these past 30-some years has been cost-cutting – a process that seems to be accelerating. Less and less money is allocated for the production of Bibles and Bible study aids and more money has been going to secretive out-of-court settlements to gag abuse victims and lawyers fees to fight off more abuse victims.
Apparently, though, the Society has quite a sum to play the markets via
hedge funds and it is raking in millions liquidating their prized Brooklyn
real estate, but not enough to print a few thousand Bibles.
If a newer version of the New World Translation in English is not
forthcoming in the near term the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society is
going to have a difficult time justifying its continued existence – not
before men – but before Jehovah God.